Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -

Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -
Donald Trump’s Ego Trip
Andy Wightman
13 May 2011
Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -

       1. INTRODUCTION                                                      3
       2.BACKGROUND                                                         3
       3. THE EARLY DAYS                                                    5
       4. PLANNING                                                          6
       5. TRUMP’s APPROACH                                                  9
       6.LANDOWNERSHIP                                                     12
       7. LANDGRABS                                                        12
       8. EARTH WORKS AND MOUNDS                                           22
       9. SECURITY                                                         25
       10. POLICE                                                          26
       11. JOURNALIST ARREST                                               26
       12. WATER                                                           28
       13. COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDERS                                      28
       14. MEDIA                                                           34
       15. REFLECTIONS                                                     36

Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited (Company No. SC292100) has its
registered office at 4th Floor, Saltire Court, 20 Castle Terrace, EDINBURGH. It trades
under the name Trump International Golf Links Scotland which has a place of business at
Menie Park Lodge, Menie Estate, ABERDEEN AB23 8YE

This report uses the abbreviations TIGCS and TIGLS appropriate to the context

Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -

From 2006 - 2008, I was living in Ethiopia. Across a poor and unreliable internet
connection, I heard tales of a golf course being planned in north-east Scotland by property
tycoon, Donald Trump. The unfolding story in so far as I could follow it made me feel that
something was not quite right about this development. On returning to Scotland, I slowly
became aware of the drama that was unfolding in a part of the world very familiar to me. I
lived in Aberdeen for 10 years and was a regular visitor to the Menie dunes, taking long
walks for many miles up the dramatic coastline north of the City.

Following a visit to Menie estate early in 2010, I decided to try and document some of the
issues that were causing concern and over the course of the past few months I have
attempted to pull these together in this report. The purpose of this report is to provide an
overview of the Trump International Golf project at Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire and to
analyse the background and implementation of the project. It examines some of the
controversial issues that have arisen and provides an assessment of the future of the

This report is being published and made publicly available. If any member of the public, of
Aberdeenshire Council, Grampian Police, Trump International Golf Links Scotland, private
contractors of Trump of members of the local community wish to come forward with further
information I undertake to treat it confidentially. I can be contacted at

During the course of my research, I asked Trump International Golf Links Scotland a
number of questions by email. Staff at its HQ at Menie House undertook to do their best to
help answer them. No answers, however, were forthcoming. If and when they do, I will
publish them at


I will start by telling you a story about a golf course build in spectacular dunes on the wild
Scottish coast. It was financed by a wealthy American and designed by a famous golf
architect. The course is the only one in the UK to have been built wholly within a Site of
Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and, working with Scottish Natural Heritage, the
designers have created a remarkable course, built by hand which enhances the wildlife of
the site. Over the 259 acres of the course, a mere 7 were disturbed during the
construction. The owners are investing in a local hotel in the nearby town and have been
welcomed by the local community. The course is the first 18 hole golf course in the UK to
Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -
receive certification by GEO, the Golf Environment Organisation who described it as the
“world’s most natural golf course” and an “exemplar of sustainable golf course
management, going beyond what is required to produce an excellent links golfing

Welcome to Machrihanish Dunes in Kintyre.2

But this report is not about Machrihanish Dunes, it is about another golf course which has
been developed in very different circumstances and which GEO described as constituting
“a complete failure to protect one of the last few remaining wild sand dune systems in
north western Europe.”3

The story of Donald Trump’s attempts to create “the greatest golf course in the world”4 is
well known as a result of extensive media coverage. But in the ongoing drama of the past
5 years since 31 March 2006, when Mr Trump first announced his intention to build a golf
course at Menie, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. So, let’s start with a reminder
of the timescale over which key events have taken place.

             DATE                                             EVENT

    2006 - 2007                Assembly of land

    31 March 2006              Donald Trump announces plans for golf course and that he
                               has bought Menie Estate

    28 - 30 April 2006         Donald Trump visits Scotland

    26 November 2006           Incomplete planning application lodged with Aberdeenshire

    30 March 2007              Planning application completed by lodging of missing

    18 September 2007          Formartine Area Committee of Aberdeenshire Council first
                               considers the application

    20 November 2007           Formartine meets and approves Outline Consent for the

    29 November 2007           Aberdeenshire Councilʼs Infrastructure Services Committee
                               votes to refuse application

    3 December 2007            Trump announces he will not appeal

    4 December 2007            Scottish Government calls in the application

4   Trump Organisation Press Release 31 March 2006
Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -
DATE                                        EVENT

    June/July 2008             Public Inquiry held in Aberdeen

    16 December 2008           Scottish Ministers grant planning approval

    4 March 2009               TIGLS requests Aberdeenshire Council to use compulsory
                               purchase powers

    8 September 2009           Planning permission granted over plots of land owned and
                               occupied by neighbouring residents

    1 October 2009             Aberdeenshire Councillor Martin Ford moves a motion to
                               oppose compulsory purchase but it is rejected

    26 May 2010                Donald Trump visits Menie and renames the dunes The Great
                               Dunes of Scotland

    30 June 2010               Detailed planning consent granted for championship golf

    21 July 2010               Machrihanish opens

    July 2010                  Construction work begins at Menie Estate

    6 - 8 October 2010         Trump visits Menie and receives honorary degree from Robert
                               Gordon University

    31 January 2010            TIGLS announces that it will not be pursuing compulsory
                               purchase orders
    Figure 1 A Timeline


On 25 October 2005, Jack McConnell, First Minister of Scotland met Donald Trump in New
York to discuss Trump’s intentions to invest in Scotland. In December Trump’s staff were in
Scotland discussing their proposals with Scottish Development International (SDI) and
were negotiating the final stages of their purchase of land at Menie Estate.

In January, the media had got wind of the story and were speculating that Trump was
looking to invest in a major leisure development in Aberdeenshire.5

By March, Trump was ready to make his announcement and Jack McConnell was taking
the view that “Trump is our most famous Global Scot and that we should continue to court
him”6 Scottish Executive officials were claiming that the First Minister should “consider
making him a Global Scot - as far as we are aware, he isn’t one yet, and if he were to
accept, he would be, by far, the most famous one.”

On 31 March 2006, Donald Trump announced plans to build “a spectacular golf
development on an 800-acre stretch of stunning sand dunes at Menie Estate,

5   Press & Journal 12 January 2006
Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -
Aberdeenshire.”7 The work was scheduled to commence by September 2006, with a
course opening for spring 2008.

On 30 April, Jack McConnell visited Donald Trump at Menie House and invited him to
become a Global Scot.8 Trump accepted.

On 27 November 2006 (2 months after works were proposed to be commenced), an
application for outline planning approval was lodged with Aberdeenshire Council. This was
incomplete and and on 30 March 2007 the application was accepted with submission of
further documents.


The planning system and the process of decision making have been at the heart of the
controversy over the Menie golf course and it is worth providing a brief summary of how
the process took place.

TIGCS submitted an application for outline planning consent on 27 November 2006. Much
of the required information, however, was missing and eventually submitted on 30 March
2007. In line with Aberdeenshire Council’s procedures, the application was first considered
by the Formartine Area Committee on 20 November 2007. It voted 7-4 to approve the
application. Because the application breached existing council planning policy, it was
referred to the Infrastructure Services Committee for a final decision.

The Committee’s 14 members met to make their decision on 29 November 2007.
Councillor Ross seconded by Councillor Storr tabled a motion to refuse the application.

Councillor Cox, seconded by Councillor Howie, tabled an amendment that the decision be
delegated to Council officials subject to conditions. Councillor Johnston, seconded by
Councillor Humphrey, tabled a second amendment to defer a decision to allow time to
negotiate with the applicant in order to prevent development from taking place in the SSSI.

The second amendment was carried by 9 votes to 5 and the final vote was therefore
between the motion to refuse and the amendment to defer. Either way, there would be no
approval given at this meeting as a result of the 9-5 vote on the amendment. The choice
was now between the motion (to refuse) or the amendment (to defer). In other words, the
choice was whether to play hard ball or soft ball with the applicant.

It is worth pointing out at this stage that it is perfectly normal for Councils to refuse or defer
planning applications for very large developments. The normal practice is that the
applicant either then appeals the decision to Scottish Ministers or negotiates with the
Council and re-submits an application which better meets the concerns that have been

7   Trump Organisation Press Release 31 March 2006
8The Global Scot Network is an official brand and initiative of the Scottish Government. It is noted that
“Membership of GlobalScot is by invitation only, personal and non-transferable.” (from website accessed 4th
May 2011)
Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -
Figure 2 Approved Masterplan for Menie Estate

Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -
In this case, the Committee was not unhappy with the principle of a golf course. It was
merely unsatisfied with the specific proposal before it for consideration on the basis of
material planning considerations that breached existing council planning policies.

As Trump was paying hard ball it appeared reasonable for the Committee to do so in the
expectation that the applicant would then appeal or re-submit a modified proposal. The
Committee then voted to refuse or to defer and the vote was tied 7-7. Councillor Martin
Ford, the Chair, then used his casting vote to vote for the status quo. The application was

What then followed was a mass outbreak of hysteria, panic and confusion among
Aberdeenshire Councillors, some MSPs and much of the business community. Instead of
viewing the decision as an appropriately determined refusal of a flawed application, they
rounded on the Committee and its Chairman, Councillor Martin Ford.

George Sorial, Trump’s Director of International Development, gave his view to the waiting
media. In response to the question, “What sort of message do you think this sends out to
the rest of the world?”, he replied “I think it sends out a devastating message that if you
want to do big business, don’t do it in the north-east of Scotland.”

Councillor Ford put the position in a far more rational manner.

“It was not ‘go away, this is all over’, it was a stage in a negotiation. The Council sent out a
message that developers everywhere are very familiar with, fully understand, perfectly
normal. What happened subsequently, however, was anything but normal.”9

On 3 December, Sorial announced that TIGLS would not be appealing the decision.

“We signed last week an option which we have 30 day to exercise on a great piece of land
in Northern Ireland So what I told Mr Campbell and the rest of the Council was the clock
was ticking ... some decision has to be made and we made it very clear that we feel its in
everyone’s best interests - it’s in our best interests, it’s in the people of Aberdeen’s best
interests that we have another hearing in front of the full council.”10

Alex Salmond MSP met TIGLS later that same day to discuss their concerns and on 4
December, John Swinney, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth
called in the application for determination by him.

This was highly unusual and indeed no application had ever before been called in
following a decision to refuse for the simple reason that a refusal meant that the status quo
prevailed and there were therefore no planning matters to consider.

Scottish Ministers had had months in which they could have called in the application but
they chose not to since they assumed it would either be approved, or, if refused, the
applicant would appeal or re-submit.

9Both quotes from Donald Trumpʼs Golf War by Midas Productions. First broadcast on BBC 2 Scotland 15
November 2010. Quote at 26:56
10   STV News 3 Dec 2007
Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -
However, the Scottish Government took the view that, because a decision letter had not
been issued, technically the application had not been determined and therefore they had
the power to call it in. The only reason therefore that it was called in was so that it had the
opportunity to be approved. Otherwise, in a matter of days, it would be refused.

A Scottish Parliamentary inquiry later examined the circumstances surrounding these
events and both the report and the oral evidence are vital reading for anyone seeking to
understand the power dynamics at play during this process.11 In particular the Committee
concluded that it was “concerned by Ministerial action which reinforces the view that there
is preferential access for some developers and some developments over others and this
clearly will undermine confidence in the balance of the planning system”.12

In October 2010, Donald Trump made a startling claim

"I give the Scottish Executive a lot of credit. They called me and really wanted me to
continue going forward. I said, 'Are you kidding? I just lost. I don't like to lose.' They said,
'No, you'll win.' They didn't want me to leave. They knew what we were doing was right,
that it was going to create a lot of jobs and maybe, most importantly, that it was going to be
great in terms of the psyche of Scotland because it’s going to be really special.”13

The allegation was later denied by the Trump organisation and the Scottish Government.
Either way, someone’s not telling the truth. But an email released in June 2008 might hold
the clue as to why Trump had made such a claim. It is not clear who it is from but it
contains a claim that the Scottish Government would approve the planning application.

As disclosed in the footer of the email, it was sent from a British Airports Authority email
account. Of greater interest is the identity of the person to whom the author spoke and
who appeared to be speaking on behalf of the Scottish Government.14 As yet, this person
has not been identified.


From the outset of this story, it was clear that Donald Trump was no ordinary developer.
Both Jack McConnell and Alex Salmond have been enthusiastic admirers and the north
east business community has gone out of its way to lavish praise on his entrepreneurial
drive and business acumen, culminating in the award of an Honorary degree by Robert
Gordon University University in October 2010.

11Local Government and Communities Committee, 5th Report, 2008. Planning Application Processes
(Menie Estate)
12 Paragraph 269. In a highly partisan vote on the report, the three SNP MSPs on the Committee dissented
from this conclusion.
13   Scotland on Sunday 26 October 2010
14   See email released under Freedom of Information here.
Donald Trump's Ego Trip - LESSONS FOR THE NEW SCOTLAND Andy Wightman 13 May 2011 -

                                               Hermit Point

                                               Leyton Cottages

                                               Leyton Farm

                                               Menie Estate

                                               Mill of Menie

Figure 3 Landownership at Menie Estate                   10
Donald Trump approached the business of a building a golf course in north east Scotland
very much as he approached his business dealings elsewhere with a sense of
showmanship, bluster, rudeness and outrageous claims. He boasted of creating the
“greatest golf course in the world”. He promised thousands of jobs and over £1 billion
investment. He bought 800 acres of Menie Estate without seeing it in person beforehand.
He did not even know that part of the land was designated as an SSSI.15

He even claimed in March 2006 that he would begin construction in September that year in
obvious ignorance of the fact that the planning process could not possibly be concluded in
such a short space of time.16 He could not believe that the landowners whose land he
wanted would respond to generous offers by politely saying “no thanks” and went on to
insult local residents in public. His outbursts against local resident Michael Forbes have
become infamous.

“I look at Mr Forbes and his disgusting conditions in which he lives and that people have to
look at that and it’s about time that somebody spoke out. It’s almost like, in fact it is like a
slum-like condition. For people to have to look at this virtual slum is a disgrace. Mr Forbes
is not a man that people in Scotland should be proud of. I mean he’s not somebody that
they should be talking about. Mr Forbes is not a respected man among people that he
lives with. Mr Forbes lives in a pig-like atmosphere. It’s disgusting.” 17

Instead of sitting down and negotiating with environmental interests, he insisted that he
needed to build in an SSSI and, as a consequence, when Aberdeenshire Council refused
planning permission for his development, he did not respond as developers in the UK quite
normally do by re-submitting an application or appealing but threatened to walk away. As
the Chair of the Infrastructure Services Committee, Martin Ford, has observed,

“The Committee had not rejected the idea of a golf course at Menie but had refused the
planning application it had to determine for very good reasons, in particular that the
application did not comply with many of the housing and environmental policies in the
development plan. I spoke of the expectation amongst Committee members that the
applicant would either appeal the Council’s decision, or make alterations and reapply, or
do both; in this regard this applicant had exactly the same rights as anyone else.”18

His approach has been unorthodox, bullying at times and intimidatory. As this report
shows, TIGLS has taken unilateral action against neighbours including threats of court
action and damage to private property. Behind the scenes, Trump Organisation staff have
sneered and laughed at ordinary law-abiding residents who have never objected to the
principle of a golf course development and only ever asked to be treated fairly, honestly
and to have their human rights to remain on their land and in their homes in peace and
free from harassment and intimidation.

15   Scottish Government Local Public Inquiry Reporters Report 2.1.6
16The Trump Organisation press release of 31 March 2006 forms part of an email released by the Scottish
Government and available here. It boldly states that ”planning and permitting is underway” which is
misleading as no planning application had been submitted and would not in fact be competently submitted
until a year later on 30 March 2007. The Press Release went on to claim that the course would be open in
Spring 2008.
17   See STV News 24 November 2009
18Martin Ford, 2011. Deciding the Fate of a Magical, Wild Place. Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies, vol. 4
(2), pp. 33-74. Paper available here.

Most of Menie Estate was sold off in the 1950s with only Menie House remaining. The
previous owner, Mr Tom Griffin, began to re-acquire parcels of land to re-assemble the
estate and it is these parcels that TIGLS has purchased. Starting with 800 acres by early
2006, further land was acquired to the south in 2007. Menie Estate, together with the
parcels of land that were the subject of the Outline Planning application in September
2009 is shown in Figure 3.

The residents’ properties were the target of early action by TIGLS. In 2005, homeowners
at Menie began receiving telephone calls from a “Peter White”. Ho told them that he had
been shooting on the estate, had fallen in love with it and was looking to acquire a holiday
home. Would they be interested in selling?

In 2006, Neil Hobday, Trump's UK Project Manager (whose full name is Neil Peter White
Hobday), admitted it was he who had made the offers and that he was in fact acting for
Trump. He claimed that using his middle names to try to negotiate a transaction was
"standard commercial practice".19 As part of the research for this report, I tried to find
someone working in the world of commercial property who could confirm that concealing
one’s identity was indeed standard commercial practice but could none willing to admit so.

One small parcel of land included in the September 2009 planning application was owned
by Aberdeenshire Council. On 19 January 2010, the Formartine Committee of
Aberdeenshire Council approved the sale of this parcel of land to TIGLS.

As of May, 2011, many parts of the Menie Estate are still in the process of being registered
on the Land Register.


One particular issue that has been troubling has been the TIGLS approach to identifying
the boundaries of its property with the neighbouring resident owners.

The normal procedure where a dispute arises over a boundary is to make contact with the
neighbour and invite a dialogue. Each side can then adduce facts and evidence from title
deeds to support their case and seek to resolve their differences. If this proves impossible
or there is a real legal dispute to be resolved they can choose to seek joint arbitration or
either party can raise a civil action in the courts. TIGLS are understandably keen to
demarcate the boundaries of their property but their approach to this has been highly
unusual and unorthodox.

Michael Forbes Land Grab

On 13 June 2010, Michael Forbes, the owner of a smallholding which is surrounded on all
sides by Menie estate, removed around 20 small 12” long marker flags that had been
placed by TIGLS across what he regarded as his land. These flags had been placed to
delineate what TIGLS regarded as the boundary between Michael Forbes’ land and Menie

19   Scotland on Sunday 23 April 2006
As a result, Grampian Police visited Mr Forbes who directed officers to the pile of flags
which he told them TIGLS were welcome to recover. Mr Forbes was then charged with
theft by Grampian Police. Sarah Malone, executive vice-president of Trump International
Golf Links Scotland, said the firm was not surprised by Forbes’ alleged actions.

“It’s unfortunate that he feels the need to resort to criminal activity but we’re pleased that
police are taking this very seriously.” 20

Charges were later dropped.

In late July 2010, TIGLS sent a letter to Forbes asking him to move equipment off the land
that had been demarcated to the north east of his property. On 3 August 2010, TIGLS staff
arrived at the north end of Forbes property with a digger and two officers from Grampian
Police and began to move his salmon nets and equipment and dug up his salmon net
drying equipment, removing it from what TIGLS claimed was its land but which assertion
was contested by Michael Forbes.

Figure 4. Michael Forbes showing Grampian Police Officers his title deeds.

When Mr Forbes showed the police his title deeds (Figure 4), they claimed that any
dispute was a civil matter and they had no locus. So why were they there? In a letter to
me, Grampian Police claimed no record of any incident on 3 August. “It does, however,
appear that Officers attended at the Menie Estate on 4 August in response to a call stating

20   Herald, 20 July 2010
that protestors were present. On the attendance of Officers, it was found that no protestors
were there and no offence had been committed.” 21 Putting aside the confusion over the
date, it appears that Officers were there on a false premise. Who had made that call that
came conveniently at exactly the same time as the diggers moved in to uproot Mr Forbes’
salmon net station?

Michael Forbes regarded this land as belonging to him and was angry that TIGLS was
“grabbing” his land.

In order to try and ascertain where the boundary was I undertook an investigation into
Michael Forbes title. It shows that the boundary of TIGCS land at the north east corner of
Forbes’ holding demarcated by TIGCS does indeed approximate to the true boundary.
There is no doubt that both he and his uncle have used this land for over 50 years and that
Michael Forbes has come to regard it as his. However, the land is clearly delineated as
part of the subjects owned by TIGCS in the Land Register.22

Further to the south, however, neither TIGCS nor the Land Register have yet delineated
the boundary between Forbes’ land and Menie Estate. Records in the Registers of
Scotland, however, show that land here which is claimed to be owned by Menie estate is in
fact owned by Michael Forbes. Indeed there is a historic confusion over one parcel which
appears to have been granted to two separate people at the same time.23

In the midst of a contradictory account of whose boundaries lie where, normal practice
would be for one party to seek the views of the other and to attempt to reach an
agreement, failing which, the matter can be tested in the civil courts. TIGLS, however,
behaved in a highly questionable, arbitrary, intimidatory and unacceptable manner in the
approach they adopted to demarcating the boundaries of their land. Michael Forbes
possessed fixed equipment - salmon drying nets - which he and his uncle had owned for
decades. In addition he had other items of equipment stored on this land. He believed that
this was his land.

The Trump Organisation gave notice of their intention to remove this equipment with no
explanation offered as to why (other than it was their land). A digger moved onto the site
and destroyed Mr Forbes’ salmon net drying station and dumped it onto what TIGLS
considered to be his land. Their actions in the presence of police officers in uprooting fixed
equipment was legally questionable in the circumstances since this equipment did not
belong to them.

The contrast between the treatment of Forbes for removing some 12 inch flags and
receiving a formal warning and the Trump Organisation removing Forbes equipment in the
presence of police officers who refused to intervene is startling. To date, TIGLS have
received no Written Warning from Grampian Police.

21   Letter from Grampian Police to Andy Wightman, 28 March 2011. ref FOI/161/11/js
22   Title ABN10953
23There is also a dispute about ownership of the foreshore which TIGLS claims ownership of but which has
not been granted indemnity by the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland on the basis that no evidence has
been provided as to its alienation by the Crown.
Figure 5 Hermit Point title ABN45471

David Milne Land Grab

David and Moira Milne own Hermit Point, a former coastguard Station (see Figure 3 & 5).
They have a title recorded in the Land Register (ABN45471) with clearly delineated

boundaries defined on the Ordnance Survey map.24 The boundaries of the Milnes’
property is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 6 Donald Trump’s convoy 7 October 2010

Figure 7 Donald Trump: “Who cares, you know what, who cares?”

On 7 October 2010, Donald Trump, George Sorial and Donald Trump jun. visited Hermit
Point. David Milne asked Mr Trump and his entourage not to come onto his land. On the

24 Section 6(1) of the Land Registration Act (Scotland) Act 1979, requires that a title be described in relation
to an Ordnance Survey map
same day, Donald Trump toured the golf course to check on progress and discuss the
project with his staff. The tour was being filmed by the US satellite station Golf Channel for
an episode of their “Donald Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf”.25

At one point the entourage of Range Rovers stops on the track below Hermit Point.
As the staff get out of their vehicles, Donald Trump calls to Sarah Malone who is standing
outside his Range Rover.

“Sarah, I want to get rid of that house.”

She replies, “It’s going to create a bit of a stir but if we’re up for it let’s do it.”

Trump throws his hands in the air and replies, “Who cares, you know what, who cares? It’s
our property. We can do what we want. We’re trying to build the greatest course in the
world .. his house is ugly ...”

Donald Trump then gets of of his Range Rover and calls for his Head Greenkeeper, Paul
O’Connor. They walk down the track and stop below Hermit Point.

Figure 8 Paul O’Connor being told by Donald Trump to “use your f***** brain”

DT: “I don’t know what the f*** the problem is ....... But look, I gotta make a change if you’re
not gonna do it “

PC: [indistinct]

DT: “Alright, OK, c’mon get smart, use your f***** brain OK?”

On the film, Trump then elaborates further in his office in New York.

25   Donald Trumpʼs Fabulous World of Golf. “Return to Scotland” 14 February 2011
“There are some houses quite far away from the course but nevertheless they are in view.
But we are berming26 some of the areas so that you don’t see the houses. I don’t want to
see the houses ... and nobody has a problem with it ...... I guess maybe the people that
live in the houses have ....”27

At a press conference on 8 October 2010 Trump made the following remark.

“We actually just learned that one of them may have built their house on our land so we’re
having that checked out.”28

On 12 October 2010, Dundas and Wilson, solicitors acting for TIGCS, wrote to the Milnes
as follows.

Our clients, Trump International Golf Club Scotland Limited, have
advised us that you currently have a fence and part of a shed (or other
building) erected on land belonging to them.

Please note that our clients now intend to remove the fence. They may,
at their sole option, re-erect the fence along the legal boundary of
your property as shown on the attached plan. No further notice will be
issued to you in this respect.

With regard to the shed, our clients require you to remove the part of
the shed that is on their land within 72 hours, failing which they
reserve their right to raise an action in the Sheriff Court for removal.

Darina Kerr, Partner, for Dundas and Wilson 29

Trump’s advisers, Dundas and Wilson, appear to have taken TIGSL’s word that any
encroachment has taken place. The Milnes’ title is shown in Figure 5. The blue shows the
extent of their original purchase of the property and the red is additional land acquired

On 18 October 2010, TIGLS contractors arrived at Hermit point and erected a new fence
along the drive and around the Milne’s property.

They claimed that they were erecting a new fence along the mutual boundary between
Menie Estate and Hermit Point. The new line of the fence was plotted using satellite
surveying equipment.

A fence which ran alongside the approach road to Hermit Point was moved in toward the
track. Fig 9 shows the original fence line in the left of the photograph. Mr and Mrs Milne
have no problem with this. Although they had maintained the grass verges for many years,
they were well aware that this land was in the ownership of Menie Estate. It might be
presumed that this is the fence referred to in the Dundas & Wilson letter.

26   Berming is a US term meaning a mound of earth used as a barrier.
27   Donald Trumpʼs Fabulous World of Golf. “Return to Scotland” 14 February 2011
28   Trump Organisation press conference 8 October. This claim is, of course total and utter nonsense.
29   See for copies of original correspondence
Figure 9 New fence erected by TIGLS along drive to Hermit Point

Figure 10 Blue post erected by Trump Organisation demarcating their alleged boundary

Workers then proceeded to mark out the boundary in the immediate vicinity of Hermit Point
and it was here that their motives became questionable. The surveyors claimed that the
true boundary lay some 40cm or so in from the back of the Milne’s garage. Fig 10 shows a
blue post placed there by TIGLS which they claimed is the proper location for the corner of
the Milne’s property. At this point it is worth clarifying the nature of Scots land law in
relation to boundaries and registration.

Under the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979, property boundaries on Title Sheets are
to be plotted using the Ordnance Survey (OS) Map as a base.30 Where there is a feature
plotted on the OS map (such as a burn or fence), this is used to define the boundary of a
property. Where there is none, the boundaries are plotted as dotted lines.

In Title ABN45471 (see Figure 5), the south and east edges of the red area are undefined
on the ground. However, the western boundary of the blue area in the vicinity of the house
is defined by the concrete fence which defined this original coastguard lookout station.
This fence is plotted on the OS map and forms the boundary between Hermit Point and
Menie Estate.

Title Sheet ABN45471 is based upon the OS 1:2500 map. By the Ordnance Survey’s own
admission, the absolute accuracy of this mapping is between 1.1m and 5.8m.31 In other
words, the location of, for example, the corner of a fence, might be 2 or 3 m further away in
real life from where it is plotted on the map. This fact, however, makes no difference to the
question of the legal boundary. Where such a boundary is in the form of a fence and such
a feature is clearly delineated on the title plan as being the boundary, then it is the physical
fence that is the boundary.

The blue post erected by TIGLS at the read of the Milnes’ garage is approximately 90cm
from the rear of the garage. When the garage was built, the rear wall lay along the fence
which forms the legal boundary of Hermit Point.

What TIGLS had, in effect, done was to take the boundaries as shown on the Title Sheet
and attempt to plot them where they thought they should be. This is an interesting exercise
and no doubt could form the basis of a student thesis on the relative accuracy of OS
1:2500 mapping and modern satellite surveying methods. But it is meaningless in relation
to the legal boundaries of land in the Land Register.

The letter from Darina Kerr, a Partner in Dundas and WIlson, instructing the Milnes to
remove the rear part of their garage within 72 hours or face Court action was written on the
instructions of TIGLS. The boundary of the Milne’s property is not in dispute and is
competently shown on their Title. If TIGLS have any issues with the boundary, the proper
way for these to be resolved is to raise the matter in writing with their neighbour and seek
to resolve the matter. If this failed, the option remained of taking civil action in the courts.

TIGLS, however, threatened to take court action unless the Milnes demolished their
garage within 72 hours. Such a threat is not only in contravention of accepted procedures
in boundary disputes but can reasonably be viewed as part of a campaign of intimidation
by TIGLS. Most property owners in Scotland would be somewhat surprised and upset if
the first intimation from their neighbour of a problem included the demand that a physical
structure such as a garage be removed within 72 hours.

30   Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 Section 6(1)(a)
31   See here for table
From their letter, Dundas & Wilson appear to have had no evidence that the boundary was
in fact wrong, merely indicating that their clients had advised them of this. In taking their
client’s instructions in this matter, they appear to have done so without offering any
foundation in law that would support TGCS Ltd's assertion.

The following day, on 19 October 2010, TIGLS erected a new fence along the line of what
they claimed was the boundary. The fence was poorly constructed with temporary posts
and chestnut pail fence (see Figure 9).

The Milnes were now surrounded by an unsightly fence which was beginning to collapse
but chose to do nothing in the meantime lest further actions be taken by TIGLS. On 21
December, TIGLS sent the Milnes a letter. It read,

Boundary Fence

Please find enclosed details of the costs incurred in relation to the
new fencing erected to demarcate the correct boundary between your
property and Trump International - Scotland .

The attached invoice is now due. Please arrange payment for half of this
invoice (£2,820.00) to be made payable to Trump International Golf
Links, Scotland.

The letter was unsigned and attached to it was an invoice from SOL Golf Construction
Ltd. to TIGLS for “Supply and erection of new boundary fence to create boundary as per
land registry documents” at a total cost of £5,640.00.32

There was no agreement between TIGLS and the Milnes to erect this fence, it is
meaningless for much of its length and it is of shoddy quality. The fact that TIGLS is
prepared to send a bill for £2,820 four days before Christmas to a residential household
who are living with the prospect of compulsory purchase hanging over them is not the
action of someone wishing to establish good neighbourly relations. It is the actions of a
bully wishing to intimidate and harass innocent, law-abiding citizens.

To compound this, in March 2011, TIGLS, imported 4m tall Sitka Spruce trees and began
to plant them round the boundaries of the Milnes’ house, blocking light and views. Again,
no consultation or agreement was reached. The result is that the Milnes are now living in a
house surrounded by something of a prison with earthwalls to the rear (see next section)
and a dense belt of trees six feet from their front windows.

As Trump said, “I don’t want to see the houses ... and nobody has a problem with it ...... I
guess maybe the people that live in the houses have ....”33

Yes, Mr Trump, they do.

32   See for copies of original documents
33   See Footnote 27.

On 21 October 2010, after TIGLS removed the existing fence, a large 20 ft high mound of
earth - a bund or “berming” as Donald Trump referred to it - began to be erected on the
north-west side of Hermit Point (see Fig. 11). On 27 October more soil was added to the

Figure 11 Bund constructed behind Hermit Point

This followed Trump’s site visit and his stated desire to “get rid” of the house and his angry
exchange with Paul O’Connor below Hermit Point. That same week, Donald Trump fired
O’Connor (see Fig. 12)

It was reported that Paul O’Connor refused to construct the earthen mounds at Hermit
Point and to destroy trees next to Leyton Cottage. Both were contraventions of the
planning approval and both operations were carried out. It was further reported that Paul
O’Connor had left the employ of Trump and that sources claim that he was dismissed after
refusing to be part of a “campaign of intimidation” and, specifically following his refusal to
implement the proposed works which would be in breach of the planning consent.34

David Milne claimed that the earth works were built in order to intimidate him. But Sarah
Malone, executive vice-president of Trump International in Scotland, dismissed Mr Milne’s
claims and said they were just getting on with the “business of building”.

34   Scotsman 4 November 2010
Figure 12 Donald Trump “firing” his Head Greenkeeper, Paul O’Connor

“Unfortunately David Milne appears unable to come to terms with the reality that a major
golf and leisure development is being built around his property. No one is being intimidated
– we are merely getting on with the business of building.

The landowners in the vicinity know that they are now living in the middle of a very large
construction site and work will only increase over the coming years. The stockpiling of soil
in our agricultural fields is a necessary part of the golf course construction process for
which we have full planning permission.”35

The earthworks are understood to be a breach of planning consent and are being
investigated by Aberdeenshire Council (see Fig. 14).

At around the same time, a 12 foot bund was constructed in front of Leyton Cottage.
Donald Trump, speaking to course designers about the location of a tee on 7 October
2010 and looking towards the Munro’s house, said,

“I would give this some extra curve so that you’re hitting that way ...OK? You’re not hitting
at the houses, you’re hitting that way. Now, that house is going to be gone because you’re
putting a big dune right there ... all right? This is fantastic eh?”36

Finally, a large area of vegetation was stripped to the north of Leyton Cottage, again in
breach of the approved planning consent (see Figure 13 & 14)

35   Press and Journal 4 November 2010
36   Donald Trumpʼs Fabulous World of Golf. “Return to Scotland” 14 February 2011
Figure 13 Extensive vegetation stripped in contravention of planning consent

Figure 14 Approved Earthworks Plan showing no planned bunds or removal of vegetation as shown in
Figures 11 and 13. Extract from Planning Consent APP/2010/1535 “Approved Earthworks 5.7.2010

The Menie Estate is patrolled by a security company which has been involved in a number
of incidents involving members of the public.

On 28 March 2009, Aberdeenshire Councillor Debra Storr complained of “thuggish”
behaviour after she took photographs of locked gates on the Menie Estate. Her car was
blocked in by security staff who were then ordered by police to let her go.

On 27 May 2010, a horse rider was detained by Trump security following allegations that
she had been riding over an area of freshly planted Maram grass.37 The rider described
the situations as follows,

"... so went for a ride down through the dunes beside the Trump area. Was outside the
fences and on the path when they're (sic) security jeep drove down. Carried on back onto
the beach and further down the the jeep with flashing orange lights comes powering out of
the dunes and storming up the beach towards me - really motoring along, splashing
through puddles, lights flashing - you can imagine how this went down with Lenny! ....
Eventually 2 big fancy blacked out range rovers turn up and 4 Americans in suits jump out
of each one and start accusing me of the vandalism that was in the papers a couple of
weeks ago. There were really quite aggressive and if Lenny hadn't been freaking out and
running round me in circles, it would have really been intimidating."

Molly Forbes live at Mill of Menie and had this to say about the TIGLS security operation.

“The security were really annoying at first because they came down six times a day. They
just came down and then turned and went back and then about half an hour after they
were back again ...... just for nae reason ..... it was just just hassle.”38

Figure 15 Trump Organisation estate security vehicle (note lack of licence plates)

TIGLS are entitled to have a security presence on the Menie Estate, particularly in light of
the reported incident of vandalism and now that the construction phase has begun. But,

37   Press & Journal 1 June 2010
they are not entitled to harass the public. Allegations of inappropriate actions are difficult to
evaluate or assess since they inevitably take place with few witnesses but it does appear
that the actions of the security operation have caused residents and visitors to the estate
at best inconvenience and at worst, a subtle feeling of being intimidated.


As of September 2010, Grampian Police has been called to Menie Estate a total of 30
times since planning permission was granted. On one of these occasions, they were
responding to an incident of vandalism. On many others, they were responding to various
allegations from TIGLS.

A police source has confirmed that special attention is being paid to the property and that
calls from Menie Estate have to be dealt with as a priority. TIGLS appear therefore to have
what might be termed a hot line to Grampian Police over and above the service provided
to ordinary residents across the rest of Aberdeenshire.

This has meant that members of the public have been the subject of attention that would
not normally be given to such incidents on land elsewhere.

Perhaps the most serious incident and the one that raises the most questions over policing
involved the arrest of two journalists.


On 30 July 2010, two journalists, Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney were making a film
investigating the social, environmental and economic cost of Donald Trump’s golf course.
In the course of filming Mr Forbes at work, they learnt that he, his wife and his mother had
been without a water supply for a week. Concerned at this situation, Baxter and Phinney
asked if Michael would mind if they went Menie House to ask what was being done to
resolve the matter.

The next day they drove to the site office where all visitors are required to report but found
it locked and proceeded to Menie House, where they proceeded to the estate office. The
door was open and they knocked and entered. The greenkeeper, Paul O’Connor, was on
the phone and they waited until the call was finished. They introduced themselves,
Anthony presented his business card and explained that they were making a film.
O’Connor consented to the conversation being filmed and Baxter proceeded to ask
questions about the water situation. They talked for around 25 minutes before leaving.

They then drove to Leyton Cottage to undertake some filming on land owned by one of the
residents. After a cup of tea, and after they had begun filming, a police car drove down the
track at some speed. Two police officers, PC Wilkinson (No.0728) and PC McKay (No.
0898) told them to turn the camera off. They asked why they should do so as they were
not doing anything against the law. PC Wilkinson then lunged towards Baxter and
attempted to seize the camera. Baxter resisted until Wilkinson grabbed his thumb. Feeling
an excruciating pain, Baxter dropped the camera and his arms were wrested behind his
back and he was handcuffed and bundled into the rear seat of the police car. Phinney was
asked to get in the car too and they were informed that they were being detained under
Section 14 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.

Figure 16 Grampian Police arriving to arrest Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney

They were driven to Grampian Police HQ in Aberdeen, held for four hours and had
samples of their DNA taken. They were charged with Breach of the Peace and later

On 4 August, Grampian Police wrote to Baxter stating that they had received a report that
he was responsible for the crime of Breach of the Peace at Menie House on 30 July. It
went on to state that there was sufficient evidence to report the matter to the Procurator
Fiscal but that on this occasion, they would, instead, be issuing a Written Warning. Baxter
exercised his right to challenge this and in January 2011, the Crown Office stated that it
would not be proceeding an further, all charges were dropped and the police records on
the pair were destroyed.

It transpires that Paul O’Connor had informed senior TIGLS staff that he had been visited
by Baxter and Phinney. They instructed him to call the police.

TIGLS spokesperson, Sarah Malone, claimed that the journalists were from the campaign
group, Tripping Up Trump.39 They were not. George Sorial claimed that the journalists
“burst” unannounced into Menie House.40 They did not - they merely knocked and entered
as one would do when visiting any business premises.

Paul Holleran, the NUJ’s organiser in Scotland, said that the arrests were unjustified and
had important implications for press freedom.

“This is blatant example of police interference aimed at stopping bona fide journalists from
doing their job. Their footage shows they were asking very pertinent questions in a
mannerly fashion as befits professional journalists. I believe this is a breach of human
rights, and we are taking legal advice. I think this must be one of the first court cases in

39   Evening Express 5 August 2010
40   Guardian 12 September 2010
this country of journalists being arrested for just carrying out interviews to establish the
truth and hold people to account.”41

Martin Glegg, spokesperson for Tripping Up Trump, a group campaigning against the
attempts to use compulsory purchase orders to force residents out of their homes, said: “I
hope this sheds some light on the tactics of the Trump Organisation and the way they are
wasting public money on police services to help them intimidate anyone who wants to
expose the truth behind this housing and golf development.”42

Perhaps the reason why TIGLS were so jumpy was because Donald Trump himself was
that day walking the course with the Golf Channel TV crew making Episode 3 of “Donald
Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf”. Baxter and Phinney, meanwhile, have told their story in a
new feature length documentary film, You’ve Been Trumped.43


On 28 July 2010, the water supply to Mill of Menie was cut off and residents had to collect
water from the burn. Michael Forbes made several calls to TIGLS but nothing had been
done. On the day of the visit by Baxter and Phinney (see above), TIGLS had promised to
fix it that morning but nobody had appeared.

TIGLS were contacted and said that the matter would be dealt with but for a week the
Forbes were without water.

George Sorial, confirmed that the water was cut off when a contractor accidentally broke
the water pipe supplying the Milnes’ property. He claimed that “The matter was addressed
immediately and it was repaired immediately.” 44

Water was restored on 3 August 2010. There is no evidence that this incident was
anything other than an accident in the course of construction works albeit that TIGLS
handled the incident in a negligent manner.


TIGLS acquired the Menie Estate in a number of different parcels in 2006. The estate had
been split up and sold off over the years with only Menie House remaining at the core. A
number of parcels of land exist adjacent to the Menie Estate that are not owned by the
estate including some that are completely surrounded by Menie Estate (see Figure 3)

•    Mill of Menie smallholding
•    Menie Fishing Station
•    Hermit Point
•    Leyton Cottage
•    Aberdeenshire Council land
•    Leyton Farm field
•    Coastguard Cottages

41   Guardian, 12 September 2010
42   Guardian, 12 September 2010
43   See Youʼve Been Trumped
44   Guardian, 12 September 2010
These parcels of land were not part of the original 2006 application for planning
permission. During Donald Trump’s first visit to Menie Estate in April 2006, he invited
residents who lived nearby to a meeting to discuss his plans and stated that “I only need
160 acres to build an 18-hole golf course, but I will do it in 200. I've got 800 acres, so I
don't need your homes.”45

Later, out in the dunes, he told the press, “We really don’t need any land. We have all the
land we need. To build a great golf course you need 200 acres. We have 800 acres.”46

Nevertheless, TIGLS made offers to acquire a number of parcels of land belonging to
neighbouring residents but none of the owners were willing to sell.

By 2008, TIGLS appeared to be resigned to the fact that a negotiated purchase of these
parcels of land might not be possible. Shortly after the conclusion of the public inquiry in
July 2008, they made a series of public statements to this effect.

Referring to the land owned by Michael Forbes, George Sorial stated that “We don’t need
his property. We never needed his property.”47

In August 2008, Donald Trump was asked about plans to acquire the land owned by
Michael Forbes. He replied “I don't need it. It's not in the way of what I'm doing. It's on the
outskirts of what I'm doing and if I buy it that'll be fine - nothing I need.”48

In December 2008, Scottish Ministers granted TIGLS outline planning consent.

(None of what follows was to be known publicly until July 2009.)

Early in 2009, George Sorial and Neil Hobday contacted Aberdeenshire Council and
raised the question of acquiring these plots using powers of compulsory purchase.49

On 17 February 2009, Ann Faulds of Dundas and Wilson wrote to Christine Gore, Director
of Planning at Aberdeenshire Council noting that TIGLS had already raised the possibility
of a compulsory purchase order for the acquisition of land at Menie. On Friday 20
February, Faulds met Christine Gore.

On 4 March 2009, Faulds wrote formally to the Council and pointed out that following the
granting of outline planning approval on 16 December 2008, TIGLS had appointed Gareth
Hoskins to prepare the masterplan. In the course of this work, eight plots of land not
owned by TIGCS,

“have been identified as required as being necessary for the proper
planning of the development. Of those eight plots:

45   Scotland on Sunday 4 October 2009
46Donald Trumpʼs Golf War by Midas Productions. First broadcast on BBC 2 Scotland 15 November 2010 at
47   Al Jazeera Donald Trump 22 July 2008 at 04:57. This 12 minute film is an excellent overview of the story.
48   Donald Trump speaking on David Letterman show 8 August 2008 Part 2 from 3:46
49See correspondence between Ann Faulds of Dundas & Wilson and Christine Gore, Director of Planning,
Aberdeenshire Council
1. One is in the ownership of the Council
2. One is a greenfield area of land at Leyton Farm
3. The remaining six form four residential properties with related land
- Leyton Cottage, Hermit Point, Menie Fishing Station and the Mill of
Menie residences.

The purpose of this letter is to ask the Council to exercise its powers
of compulsory purchase under Section 189 of the Town and Country
Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 to acquire the eight plots of land on
behalf of TGLS......

We hope that the Council will agree to facilitate the acquisition of
these properties to ensure that the development is of the requisite high
standard to secure the economic benefits rehearsed at the public inquiry
last year.”

Attached to the letter was a map showing the plots, a schedule listing the eight parcels
and their owners. Also attached was a Statement of Reasons drafted in the form of a
report from the Director of Planning to Members of the Council.50 In it, the case was made

“The proper planning of the development of the Menie Estate to create a
golf resort of the necessary high standard to secure the predicted
economic benefits requires control of each of the Schedule 1

On 2 April 2009, Christine Gore and other staff at Aberdeenshire Council met with Ann
Faulds, George Sorial and Donald Trump jun. The meeting discussed the possibility of a
revised planning application being submitted for the development with a view to it being
submitted to Full Council on 1 October 2009. The meeting also discussed the possibility of
the CPO request being considered at the same meeting.

It was clear that what was being contemplated at this stage was a new planning
application that would (unlike the original) include land not owned by TIGLS. That land
would then become land

“required for a purpose which it is necessary to achieve in the
interests of the proper planning of the area in which the land is

This wording matches precisely Section 89 (1)(b) of the Town and Country Planning
(Scotland) Act 1997 which provides the statutory justification for the use of CPO.

A new planning application that included the parcels outwith the ownership of TIGLS would
provide a far easier justification for (at the same meeting), approving the request for CPOs.

As it happened, no such revised application was forthcoming because news of the plan
leaked out.

50   See correspondence at
51   See para 10 of Statement of Reasons cited in footnote 48
A report in the Press and Journal on 9 May claimed that Trump had written to the owners
of the plots stating his wish to buy them and that the Council had sent a briefing note to
Councillors raising the prospect of CPOs.52

On 27 May 2009, TIGLS then submitted a series of planning applications for the various
parcels “to form part of” the original consent. This raised the stakes considerably since
TIGLS did not own these parcels and yet, if they could become part of the original outline
permission, the argument for granting CPOs would be strengthened.

Responding to press speculation that CPOS were now under active consideration,
Councillor Martin Ford then decided to pre-empt any such application by asking the
Council to rule out the use of CPO.

On 20 July, he submitted a notice of motion to the Council as follows

“Aberdeenshire Council will not use compulsory purchase powers to force Aberdeenshire
residents from their own homes on or adjacent to the Menie estate.” 53

The motion was to be considered at the council meeting on 1 October 2009.

This was followed straightaway by a statement by Aberdeenshire Council in which it
admitted for the first time that the Council “has been asked by the Trump Organisation to
use its powers of compulsory purchase to acquire some areas of land which do not form
part of the site for which planning permission exists”.54

The cat was out of the bag. TIGLS had indeed applied for CPOs to be used and the fact
that the Council and TIGLS had discussed the possibility of formally considering the CPOs
at the October full council meeting and that this motion now appeared to frustrate that goal
infuriated TIGLS.

Neil Hobday, the Project Director, could not hide his frustration

“Even from four years ago we’ve been talking to the Milnes, the Forbes and the others
about, you know, it would be preferable and desirable to own that land em ...Little did we
know as of six months ago that it would be absolutely essential.”55

“Martin Ford has done something that is entirely inappropriate and underhand and he
knows it. The prospect of compulsory purchase is not before the full council at the
moment. It’s been removed for the foreseeable future to allow us .. and he knows full
well .. to allow us to continue our discussions and negotiations with our neighbours.” 56

52   Press and Journal 9 May 2009.
53   Available here
54   Statement issued by Aberdeenshire Council 20 July 2009 and reported in Press and Journal 22 July 2009
55Donald Trumpʼs Golf War by Midas Productions. First broadcast on BBC 2 Scotland 15 November 2010 at
56Donald Trumpʼs Golf War by Midas Productions. First broadcast on BBC 2 Scotland 15 November 2010 at
You can also read
NEXT SLIDES ... Cancel